OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Another day, another lawsuit

Wheaton's move comes one day after a federal judge dismissed a large suit over the mandate on the grounds that the policy has not yet taken effect. That suit was filed by the Republican attorneys general of seven states and three Catholic groups based in Nebraska. Read more on the developments from Healthwatch.

And at Notre Dame ...: Walgreens partnered with the prominent Catholic college to open an on-campus wellness center for employees that also fills prescriptions — except for birth control. Those orders will be accepted only when there is a "medical need not related to birth control," said Notre Dame spokesman Dennis Brown. The arrangement is the first of its kind, Brown said. Kaiser Health News has more.

Bill blockade: Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) introduced bills to stop an Obama administration welfare policy change in its tracks. The change would use waivers to permit states more flexibility to meet requirements of the landmark 1996 welfare-to-work law Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Republicans have roundly criticized the move as gutting the law's work requirement altogether.

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"The Obama administration quietly released 'guidance' to the states informing them that the administration had granted itself authority to waive work requirements in TANF," Hatch said Wednesday on the Senate floor. “In the 16 years since the creation of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, no administration has concluded that they have the authority to waive the TANF work requirements.” The Hill's Floor Action blog has the details, and Healthwatch has a post on related comments by former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson (R ).

Health, Labor and Education bill clears: A controversial GOP spending bill with deep cuts to labor, health and education programs cleared an Appropriations subcommittee on Wednesday by a 8 to 6 vote. The bill forbids implementation of the healthcare law and cuts funding for Planned Parenthood unless the group stops providing abortions. Overall, the $150 billion bill cuts $6.3 billion from current levels of spending in the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education departments and is part of Republican efforts to rein in government spending – an important message for the GOP on the campaign trail. The Hill's On The Money blog has the story.

'Republican idea': Former GOP Sen. Bill Frist (Tenn.) urged fellow Republicans Wednesday to embrace the insurance exchanges that are central to President Obama's signature healthcare reform law. A prominent heart transplant surgeon who was Senate majority leader from 2003 through 2006, Frist said GOP opposition is a mistake.

"Originally a Republican idea, the state insurance exchanges ... will offer a menu of private insurance plans to pick and choose from, all with a required set of minimum benefits, to those without employer-sponsored health insurance," he wrote in The Week magazine. Read more at Healthwatch.

Letting loose: Don Berwick, President Obama's former Medicare chief, blasted critics of the healthcare law for "irresponsible, cruel, baseless rhetoric" and said Washington leaders "bend the truth and rewrite facts" out of convenience. His tenure as head of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) began shortly after the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, and he resigned in late 2011 after Republicans in the Senate refused to allow his confirmation to proceed.

Addressing Harvard graduates, Berwick condemned Washington for "careless games" when it comes to healthcare and Republicans for a fixation with accusations of "rationing" and "death panels." Healthwatch has more from his recent speech. 


Thursday's agenda

The House Small Business subcommittee on Investigations will hold a hearing on the demise of small and solo medical practices.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will mark up the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. 


State by state

DHS: Savings to Arkansas would exceed Medicaid expansion costs.

A breakdown of those numbers.

Branstad on medicaid-funded abortions — 'Right thing’ will be done.

Patient advocates, drugmakers fight insurers' pain pill policies.

Fraud, neglect cited in report on California nursing homes.


Lobbying registrations

US Strategies / Hospital Association of Puerto Rico

Fabiani & Company / Asuragen

Fabiani & Company / Ablitech

New World Group Public Affairs / Hospital Association of Puerto Rico

Fabiani & Company / Rempex Pharmaceuticals 


Reading list

Once the focus of health law, some in poverty may be left out
   
Physical inactivity is killing us (5.3 million of us, to be exact)

AIDS deaths worldwide drop as access to drugs improves

Surge in biotech deals to unlock big investor profits


What you might have missed on Healthwatch

Reps. Ron Paul, Barney Frank join forces to back bipartisan medical marijuana bill.

FDA approves weight-loss drug.

GOP attacks on health law’s subsidies could backfire on Medicaid.


Comments / complaints / suggestions?

Please let us know:

Sam Baker: sbaker@thehill.com / 202-628-8351

Elise Viebeck: eviebeck@thehill.com / 202-628-8523

Follow us on Twitter @hillhealthwatch